Fri | Dec 9, 2016

How to stifle a growth agenda

Published:Saturday | July 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

If it were not so sad, it would be laughable how often the Government and its various spokespersons and institutions speak about a 'growth agenda' for Jamaica, while other agencies under its control indulge in practices that have the exact opposite effect on anything that could remotely resemble a growth agenda.

Let's look at a recent manifestation of the growth agenda and business accommodation that we often hear about.

I recently requested a site inspection from the Customs Department, believing that this was a routine matter. I was told that my company's containers could only be inspected at an already approved location. l pointed out to Customs that the new location was my customer's premises and it was more convenient and less costly to inspect the goods there.

They then said they would send me a list of the rules and conditions under which they would consider the inspection. When l received the list, it was two pages of almost 30 items, mainly concerned with the comfort of the customs officers while on the site.

I must be fair to the Site Unit as it did send two officers to look at the location within a day of my request, but this was little comfort to our business as the location was not approved, notwithstanding the fact that it was properly secured, with a perimeter fence, security guards and decent toilet facilities - all of which met or exceeded the two-page list of requirements.

No consideration was given to the additional costs l would be bearing in the double handling of the goods, on top of the extra GCT, CAF, environmental tax, BSJ levy; all in addition to the relatively new requirement of paying GCT upfront on Government of Jamaica suppliers.

The authorities must understand that the way to grow an economy is not to keep on taking everything away from businesses, even as you tie them up with absurd bureaucracy. Real growth will only happen with enlightened, proactive and business-friendly policies that do not take a decade to be implemented.

FRUSTRATED BUSINESSMAN

Liguanea, St Andrew